G’day all its Sam and Imp here and welcome to Part 2 of our New Japan G1 Climax predictions. A Block kicked things off last weekend in Dallas Texas but the tournament travels back to Japan this week as B Block kicks off and things really start to get going in earnest.
In case you missed our A Block predictions and intro to the G1 you can check them out here. Throughout the tournament we will be bringing you a weekly wrap every Friday with our Top 5 matches of the week and MVP competition. You can also follow us on Twitter @Sir_Samuel & @TheDamnImplicat. For now though buckle up for our B Block predictions and most anticipated matches.
Sam: There is just so much to love about Tetsuya Naito, a true wrestling prodigy who has remained as lightning quick as any junior on the roster while also packing the power of a heavyweight. Combine that with his arrogant swagger and uber cocky attitude and you have the kind of anti-hero we just love to cheer for.
Storyline wise Naito has so much going in his favour this year. In 2017 after taking out the G1 it looked like he was ready to win the heavyweight championship at the Tokyo Dome but he hadn’t truly learnt his lesson from all those years ago when he tried too hard to prove he belonged in the main event only to show his own glaring insecurity. A year against, Chris Jericho, a man who truly doesn’t care has taught Naito well and now it is finally time for the most popular wrestler on the roster to get his big win at the Dome and on the way there take out the G1.
This G1 there is so much to look forward to, of course there is the matchup with Jon Moxley but I’m personally really looking forward to the LIJ on LIJ crime between him and junior turned heavyweight Shingo Takagi.
Imp: Surely this is the year. I said that the last time we did this column, but trust me, this time Naito’s arc really is leading back to the Wrestle Kingdom main event.
As Sam said, his rivalry with Jericho last year taught the Tranquilo One to own himself and not feel like he has to prove anything to anybody. Now we are likely to see that lesson in action, when the time actually comes can Naito face his past and finally move on from the failure of the Stardust Genius? In his last Tokyo Dome main event against Okada he couldn’t, but a post-Jericho Naito? That we probably won’t find out till January 4th itself.
In the build to July Naito’s been declaring his motivation is to become the first ever wrestler to hold both the IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championships at the same time. However, you’ve got to think part of that is his desire to show everyone that he really is the Shuyaku of New Japan Pro Wrestling, taking his spot as the new leading actor that seemed all but promised to him at the start of the decade. Before it all fell apart in the tail end of 2013, which led to some time away in Mexico that changed his path forever..
The popularity of Los Ingobernables de Japon as a whole in Japan cannot be understated, the anti-hero stable is incredibly over. If you’re looking for someone to main event the second of two days in the Tokyo Dome, the leader of that stable sure would be a great choice.
He’s also facing Jay White in the main event of the final round of Block matches at Nippon Budokan, so The Tranquilo One will be a major factor on the final night regardless of his own run.
But surely – with two nights at the Tokyo Dome, the first Wrestle Kingdom of the Reiwa era – surely this will be Naito’s year.
Sam: Say it with me Imp
Imp: Ok, we’re going for it?
Sam: It’s gotta be…
Sam & Imp: Winner of the G1, Naiitoo Tetsuuyaaaaa!!!!!
Sam: Those of you who have read my work may know I am a little bit of a Dean Ambrose/Jon Moxley mega fan so you can imagine my excitement when he first showed up in New Japan, the company that has slowly become the center of my pro wrestling viewing. With a full time TV schedule for AEW coming up this G1 really is now or never for Moxley so I am beyond thrilled that we will get to see him step into the ring against a whole bevvy of wrestlers in perhaps the most violent block in G1 history (Imp, can you fact check that claim for me).
Imp: Late Noughties Togi Makabe says hello. But I’m being a tad pedantic, this block sure does look to be pretty violent!
Sam: Since his New Japan debut against Juice Robinson, Moxley has shown a new level of intensity to his in ring game. It is perhaps best exemplified by his new finisher The Death Rider which is a souped up version of the WWE finisher Dirty Deeds. Beyond that Moxley seems to be more physical and deranged, almost an exaggerated version of the unhinged ‘lunatic’ from WWE but minus the Looney Toones antics.
There are so many matches I’m excited to see Mox in, be it the rematch against Juice Robinson, a meeting with Los Ingobernables ace Naito, the psychological masterclass against Jay White or just the Block B Battery of Big Blokes: Ishii, Goto, Jeff Cobb & Shingo Takagi all of whom will be aiming to take Moxley’s head off.
Will he win it? It is a very, very long shot but he is their IWGP United States Champion, is the hottest property in wrestling today and is set to play a big role in AEW. He will certainly factor in to the last night of the Block proceedings.
Imp: Ditto what Sam said, I’m not sure he’ll figure into NJPW’s plans as a potential finalist, but I’m still expecting him to play a big part over the course of this tournament. All building to that blood-fueled rematch with Juice Robinson in the final round. So it looks like we may be getting more of a character/reputation building run than the arrival of new star immediately dancing as a main eventer. This isn’t TNA, he’s not an immediate main eventer because he’s a former WWE guy.
Although one of the bigger factors is Moxley’s AEW contract kicking into gear in Autumn, the Japanese promotion and new US machine full of hype and promise don’t have any working agreement. Hell, for all we know this is it for Moxley for a fair while, he elevates Robinson and leaves. Likely returning in time for a big match at Trouble Double Tokyo Domu.
Exactly like Sam put it, Moxley is a much more violent side of the ‘Lunatic’ we’ve become accustomed to. How far we’re yet to see, he arrived with style in his debut against Juice Robinson, but it’s some way to descend to the violence he was associated with before his decade long run with Big Vinny Mac. Hell, he changed so much I never imagined I’d see him leave the promotion, who knows how far into violence he’ll fall.
His match with Joey Janela at Fyter Fest felt like a glimpse, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we by the end of the G1 Mox has fully embraced that violent brawling style. Especially intrigued in what will happen when that style comes face to face with the fighting spirit of the strong style lads in Ishii and Goto.
Jay White as well, aa wrestler who normally likes to take the match to the outside. However against Moxley that could possibly be the worst thing he could do, so will we see The Switchblade play a smarter game this year?
Imp: Big boys play with knives, big men grow beards!
I may be going headstrong into this being Naito’s year, but there is a wee fella in the back of my mind reminding me that ‘Switchblade’ Jay White did pin Okada at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom half a year ago. Sure he then lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to him at Madison Square Garden, but that makes their 2019 record 1 – 1.
He’s also prone to utilise a tad of cheating, something that wasn’t exactly greeted with open arms last year. Whatever gets him the win, be it chairs, low blows or rather a lot of Bullet Club interference. I mean, there was a fair bit last year, but the New Zealander wasn’t the stable’s leader back then. Now however? Brace for folk moaning on Twitter, Club’s gonna club.
I’m not saying Jay White will win, but I am hinting at probably keeping an eye on the knife boy.
Sorry, knife man.
Sam: Here is a man with a lot to prove this G1. Ever since returning to New Japan in late 2017 Jay White has been a man going places. The theoretical rocket strapped to his back hit a new level of orbit earlier this year when he won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and main evented the first non-WWE wrestling show at MSG in years.
However throughout his tenure with the company he has been dogged by the tag of ‘undeserving’ and his sheanagin filled performance at last year’s G1 did not help the situation. To be fair to the Switchblade he has done a lot this year to shake that tag however a second G1 full of wasted matchups will be a stain on his record that will become difficult to remove. There is plenty of talent for him to work against with his counter heavy, cerebral style so I will be quietly looking forward to what he can produce. A particular highlight will be seeing how he deals with the antics of Toru Yano.
Regardless of his matches I do expect a very strong showing from Jay White. His matchup with Tetusya Naito on the final night of the B Block will be the first time the pair have met and may well decide the winner of the block.
Imp: Rich Latta’s happy.
Sam: It is the true Best Bout Machine in the G1.
Imp: In a Block with plenty of NEVER muscle lads to play with, this could end up being Ishii’s most consistent G1 since… well, since last year. Actually, Ishii has been one of the tournament’s most consistent performers since 2013, end of.
This year he’s in a tough block, but it’s also one that really seems to play to his strengths. I mean, come on, there’s not one, not two, but three NEVER Openweight title scene lads. It’s like the strong style fan’s dream! Not forgetting the most jacked Junior I’ve ever seen in my life in Shingo, an emotionally charged Juice Robinson, a brawling Moxley, possibly the most driven version of Naito to enter a G1 and of course the biggest match of all… Toru ‘freakin’ Yano!
No, seriously, Ishii and Yano faced off in the first round of 2018’s tournament and it was bloody fantastic with the crowd popping like crazy. This year Ishii is going in having not really done much, but not going in with much momentum has hardly meant anything in the past. This fridge potatoe of a man simply has incredible consistency across every one of his matches, you can’t miss any of them.
I’ve been watching NJPW for 5 years now, I don’t think he’s capable of a ‘standard’ G1 run. The fact the Stone Pitbull can keep that up within such a grueling tournament schedule is insane, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s up for ‘Tournament MVP’ in many people’s minds once again.
He won’t win though.
Sam: Could not agree more Imp. This Block is pretty much Ishii in G1 Block form: ugly looking but full of intensity, violence and potential. Ishii lives in a special part of every New Japan fan’s heart and I don’t think anyone would be mad if he beat everyone, however the story of Ishii is never the story of a winner. The story of Ishii is the guy that gives everything his all, the guy that is the bodyguard for The Champ, the guy that everyone loves but is never the true money maker.
Expect a whole lot of incredible exchanges with the other big boppers in this block and surprising encounters as he matches some of the faster, more technical guys move for move just don’t expect him to win much.
Sam: Juice Robinson is an extremely hard one to pick, everything about where he has come from and what he has done seems to point toward him being a guy that New Japan management should be completely behind. However when it comes to the crunch, like last year’s G1 or when a big name gajin from another company comes to town, Juice has often been used as a fall guy and then a stop gap when there is no one else around.
It is something that has to be wearing a tad thin on one of the few genuine babyfaces in pro wrestling today. However I still believe that New Japan has big plans for Juice, he can hold the crowd in the palm of his hand in the ring, can be funny or serious at the drop of a hat and is one of the best promos in all of wrestling. If New Japan is serious about a western expansion then Juice Robinson should be at the forefront of their plans.
Mark down August 11 because anyone who saw the fire in Juice Robinson’s eyes after losing the IWGP US Championship to Jon Moxley at Best of the Super Juniors Final will know that Robinson will be firing to get square with his former mentor. I predict it will be a Juice Robinson win that will take Mox out of the running for the G1 Finals.
Imp: Juice had a tough run last year after going in with an injured hand, however this year he’s entering ready to strike vengeance upon thee! Pirate Juice is dead, long live… Macho Juice? He’s got in interesting sense in style, that man.
Can’t criticise though, he clearly knows what he’s doing. That man fuuuuucks.
Each year Robinson seems to enter with more fire than the last, who knows how well he would have done in G1 Climax 28 if he was 100%? This year there’s no excuse though, if he doesn’t have a great run it’s all on him. No injury, fired up after his incredible match with Moxley and no longer entering as the inexperienced underdog.
This is Juice’s 3rd G1, arguably the first in which he has any chance to actually challenge the top of his block. The only thing standing in his way is himself and quite possibly the toughest G1 line-up he’s ever been a part of. Not forgetting that to succeed he’ll have to best both his heated rivals in Jay White and Jon Moxley, there’s a chance if he wasn’t 100% like last year he’d get decimated.
Juice genuinely could finish in the top half of a potentially career defining G1, ‘could’ being the optimum word here.
Imp: Fun fact, where I live ‘cob’ is another word for a bread roll. I should probably tell Satoshi Kojima that, teaming with a man literally called ‘bread roll’, it’s the ultimate dream.
I’ve been a big fan of the Hawaiian sandwich since his Lucha Underground days as the monster Matanza. But what really did it was his first run in PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles, paired alongside his amazing run in the annual PROGRESS Wrestling Super Strong Style 16 tournament that culminated with an incredible Semi Final match with Matt Riddle.
So this may be Jeff Cobb’s G1 debut, but this isn’t his first big tournament within the wrestling industry. Here he represents ROH as a rising star within the US promotion, it’s not out of reason the strong lad may receive decent booking throughout this grueling tournament.
He ain’t winning though, bugger will be lucky to finish in the top half. Although I’m predicting he’ll fit in nicely with the other NEVER title scene big lads in Ishii and Goto. B Block bringing the beef!
Sam: One of the many absolute brutes that make this block a strong style dream. The thing I like about Cobb is that on top of his obvious size and strength he is able to move. While the ‘athletic big man’ is a tad overdone in some instances and I generally prefer my big men to just be brutes, there are few better at combining those two styles than Cobb who has the genuine athletic background to back it up and knows when to pick his spots.
Of course he is going to have violent bangers against Ishii, Shingo and Goto and I predict a solid middle of the pack finish for Ring of Honour G1 debutant.
Imp: Speaking of beef. Look at this sizzling hot steak right here.
Sam: Does the barrel chest of this man know no bounds? Is he just gonna barrel through the entire B Block?
Imp: The Dragon’s sure going to be an interesting one to follow. I’d look at the past performances of Juniors elevated to the G1, but bullshit is this beast a Junior! If anything, getting to dance with the NEVER lads is likely to emphasise that fact, even if the man himself said he’s still a Junior and just wanted to test himself against the Heavyweights.
I can see Shingo having some incredible matches against the hosses as he stands tall against them, after such a strong build over his first year it’s difficult to see him not proving a huge success. The real question is how he copes with some of the more ‘difficult’ customers such as Jay White and Taichi, how does he test when the match becomes more of a battle of the mind than simply just sheer power and will?
Of course there’s also the case of him being in the same block as the leader of his stable in Tetsuya Naito, what on Earth happens here? An incredibly driven Naito and a Takagi looking to prove himself could lead to a damn interesting encounter!
Sam: I’d say you are shooting a tad high with Takagi Imp. He may well make a home in the heavyweight division after the G1 but I can’t see him finishing in the top half of the bracket. I predict his story will be him trying to prove himself throughout the tournament.This will mean losing his first three matches against some of the potentially softer competition of Juice, Yano and Taichi before finding his fire against Moxley and going on a bit of a run towards the end of the tournament, potentially even picking up a win over Ishii to set up a NEVER Openweight Title match in the future.
Imp: Goto out here still carrying his honour and having way better matches than he seems to get credit for, he’s a G1 veteran and you’ll see why in his performances. Not expecting him to pick up many victories, but every year Goto vs Ishii seems to be up for Match of the Year. I swear to God those two are in the same Block year on year and they bloody bring it every time.
He enters G1 Climax 29 though as a veteran journeyman, unfortunately his time as a true contender for that top spot was a decade ago. In that time he fell on too many times to be treated seriously as a Wrestle Kingdom main eventer, eventually slotting in nicely with the NEVER Openweight Championship and the strong style of wrestling the division grew to evoke so nicely.
Goto’s essentially become the embodiment of what that title represents to New Japan, unfortunately one of those things isn’t ‘winner of the G1’.
He’ll have some bloody brilliant matches though. His contests with Naito, Ishii, Cobb, Moxley and Shingo should all be worth the watch, like Ishii there’s a fair few guys that’ll play to his strengths incredibly well. He just, you know, he just won’t win many of them.
Sam: The nearly man of New Japan. He has got close to that IWGP Heavyweight Title but never been able to convert on his chances so many times. I swear that one day he will win the damn thing but it will not be this year.
He is looking lean and mean though so I expect him to punish the rest of this block for the wins they will take over him and look damn impressive while doing it.
Imp: Fear the claw!
Ooo, the claaw.
If Sabre Jr will be channeling Suzuki’s in ring technical ability, Taichi’s the one honouring the antics and ringside brawls. That microphone isn’t just for pretending to sing into you know! That weapon in disguise has earnt him some defining victories over this past year, including capturing the NEVER Openweight Championship and even a shot at Naito’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
There’s no argument the Suzuki-Gun man has stepped recently, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he picked up a few points over the NEVER fellers as he did that to become champion in the first place. He’s even one of those that’ll likely snag a point or two off one of the top players as well, the antics will pay off at some point. The kind of entrant that doesn’t necessarily finish near the top, but ends up playing a major part as he snatches points that could have made someone else’s G1.
And then there’s the claw he inherited from the recently retired Iizuka, thought to cause madness within its wearer. He’s kept the thing in it’s bag since taking ownership, but it will be there by his side, you know, just in case.
Sam: Taichi finally making the G1 should be a big story of the tournament, however I feel like given his company in the block it is going to be glossed over.
It will be interesting to see which Taichi turns up, will we get the shenanigan heavy cheap shot artist or will we get the Taichi that stood toe to toe with Ishii at Dominion. Given the block he is in I hope for Taichi’s sake he can find at least an ounce of courage or he may be on the receiving end of some hellacious whallopings. We will know a lot by how he fares in his first round match against Moxley, a big performance full of spirit could mean big things but a one sided whalloping would set Taichi up for a lot of support work this G1.
Imp: Yano was my MVP last year, don’t @ me, Rich.
If you’re not to the wise, Yano is the jokester/cheeky devil of the New Japan roster. Guaranteed to go for everything, from the corner pads to the tape and scissors under the ring. He’s like a toddler who needs the ring child proofing, even the referees end up getting used sometimes. Poor Red Shoes can’t keep up nowadays!
However, last year he vowed to take the competition seriously and ended up having one of the best runs out of the entire G1 as he slowly descended back into nonsense. It was nice while it lasted. Something I don’t see happening at all this year, like Taichi though he 100% will win at least one match that will end up being really important for someone higher up the block.
The man’s like a breath of fresh air during such a serious, grueling tournament. Just a nice time to relax with some pure fun before jumping back into the testing battle of wills that is the G1 Climax.
He may finish bottom of the block, but Yano’ll be number one in my heart.
Sam: The true Ace of the G1! Yano’s matches are always a welcome break from the epic pace of tournament. His match with SANADA last year even ranks as one of the few wrestling matches my wife has ever enjoyed and she is absolutely not a wrestling fan.
Sadly that doesn’t fare him well for the points standings however his match with Jon Moxley and Taichii will be on my list of ‘must sees’.
Most Anticipated Match
Sam: Jon Moxley v Everyone (Ishii if I have to pick)
If you read my predictions or any of my previous writing you will know that the former Dean Amrbose is my favourite wrestler of all time so seeing him against any of these guys in the G1 is a dream. Moxley said he came to the G1 to challenge himself and experience new things and nothing could be further removed from the santised vision of the WWE than the violence of Strong Style that Tomohiro Ishii pumps out.
One of the most underrated parts of Moxley’s in ring arsenal is his ability to sell a beating. He convulses and writhes in a way that not only makes you see the pain travel through his body but emphasises his character. In the absence of Minoru Suzuki I would say Ishii is the most dangerous wrestler in the tournament. I fully expect Moxley to try to stand toe to toe with The Stone Pitbull, take an absolute whalloping and attempt to give it back just as hard.
While I don’t think the entire block will rest on the result of this match I just cannot move past the potential for this to upstage every other match in the tournament as these two purveyors of pain go face to face.
Imp: Tetsuya Naito v Jon Moxley
One of NJPW’s biggest stars of this generation vs one of WWE biggest stars of this generation, this is a match I never thought would happen. Los Ingobernables de Japon vs The Shield, my inner wrestler nerd is so excited. So is my exterior one to be fair, not exactly hidden my hype for the former Dean Ambrose being in this tournament. To think my most anticipated match of the B Block last year was Ibushi vs Yano… seriously guys, stop slacking and just check out Yano’s run last year already.
(And yes I know Omega vs Ibushi was last year, I’m putting Yano over hard over here.)
Naito/Moxley is such a dream match, two very strong characters where I’ve got this feeling their two distinct wrestling styles will gel extremely well. It’s also one that will likely have a massive say in the final standings for B Block, with a loss for either man here potentially derailing any realistic shot of finishing top.
So a match to look out for in every sense, the question is will Naito be able to best the Deathrider? A damn talented wrestler known the world over, but also one the LIJ leader has never faced before. Not the kind of mid-G1 test Naito would have been expecting!
That wraps it up for us this week. Let us know what you think of our predictions Who do you think will take out the B Block? Let us know in the comments below, on Twitter @Sir_Samuel & @TheDamnImplicat or you can even jump into the LOP Columns G1 Climax thread here. Make sure you check back in next week for our G1 weekly wrap too.
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